VASSALBORO —If you follow baseball transactions, you’ve probably heard of this one before. There’s a trade, and one of the teams acquires a player to be named later.

In the case of York’s Dairy Farm, they’re acquiring a pig to be named later from Wicked Quail and Pork in exchange for a greenhouse frame.

“Our property is also very much our homestead,” said Brea Willette, who co-owns Wicked Quail and Pork in Vassalboro with her husband, Paul, “and I’ve done a lot of bartering with other Maine homesteaders that rely on growing their own food, bartering and usually a small income to do what they do. Bartering is definitely popular in Maine, I would say.”

On Saturday, Wicked Quail and Pork’s greenhouse frame was crushed by a large tree branch weighed down with snow. Brea Willette posted about the incident on the farm’s Facebook page, and on the same day, Zac York reached out, offering his greenhouse frame in exchange for a butchered pig next May.

Our asses have been saved big time by a fellow farmer and close friend.
Zac at York’s dairy farm in China has offered…

Posted by Wicked Quail and Pork on Saturday, December 5, 2020

“I had bought it this summer with the intention of setting it up this year or next,” York said. “But for me, it was just going to be a little hobby type thing. For Brea, it was her livelihood, so it was an easy decision to barter it to her for some pork.”

York and Brea Willette, both 23, grew up together and attended the same classes from preschool to high school. They describe each other as family.

“Farming’s a tough industry, and we’re both young farmers,” Brea Willette said. “You don’t like to see others fail, and I think he was just trying (to help) in any way he could think of possible, and he just happened to have what I needed.”

York purchased the China dairy in May from Elwood and Donna Stevens. York started working at the dairy at age 14 and is now the youngest milk producer in the state, supplying milk from his 130 cows to Oakhurst. Sometimes, there are up to four generations of Yorks working at the farm at once.

Brea Willette, 23, with the hogs she raises with her family as part of their Wicked Quail and Pork business Monday at their home in Vassalboro. The family is raising a hog they will butcher and trade for greenhouse materials their friend Zac York provided them after their greenhouse was destroyed in the recent nor’easter. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

York works seven days a week, 85 hours, and credits his wife, Liz, for allowing him to pursue his farming goals. They’ve been dating since they were in middle school. They also have a 2-year-old son, Lincoln.

“He is all about cows and tractors,” York said. “My hope is for him to be a second generation dairy farmer some day. I don’t have much free time, but she manages to take care of our son and home so I can chase my dreams.”

Brea and Paul Willette have two children, 2-year-0ld Kingston and 3-month-old Stevie. Paul Willette is an apprentice at Houle’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Waterville and is working toward obtaining licenses.

Brea is plenty busy raising the children, running the farm operations and homesteading. She takes pride in helping others with homesteading and offering advice on how to succeed on a lower income and make one’s own food security.

“I never went into teaching, but I like to teach what I know,” Brea Willette said. “I know how to preserve food, and I know how to care for livestock, so that’s what I choose to teach to others.”

Brea Willette comes from a farming family. She once thought about law enforcement, but quickly decided to stay with what she knows best.

Brea Willette would have been the fifth generation of beef cattle farmer but decided to opt for pigs. At Wicked Quail and Pork, they raise a few dozen pigs per year for farm stand sales and wholesale pig halves.

They “do everything with the quail” from producing a few hundred chicks to eggs and meat. They also produced chicken meat this past year, but they’re not sure if they’ll do it in the future.

About 90% of the food the family eats comes from their homestead, between raising animals, hunting and growing their own vegetables.

They put up a greenhouse for the first time in March and began selling Community Supported Agriculture boxes of the farm’s meat and produce. A large tree branch weighed down with snow fell on top of the greenhouse and broke frame during last week’s storm.

Many of the greens are not able to be moved, but some are being salvaged for the Willettes to eat.

Homesteader Brea Willette, 23, looks over the family’s 10 foot by 60 foot greenhouse Monday. The greenhouse was destroyed after a tree branch fell on the structure during the nor’easter Saturday. The Willettes used the greenhouse to grow food for the hogs they raise at Wicked Quail and Pork located at their home in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Even though the family has decided not to raise more meat chickens, Kingston Willette made sure his opinion on the matter was heard. While the farm raised meat chickens, they would go to the butcher every eight to 10 weeks.

Kingston trained the chickens to follow him around the yard and fed them. When they were brought to the butcher, he’d get angry. Now, he’s got a dozen laying hens of his own to keep that won’t go away.

“It’s a really good learning process for him,” Brea Willette said. “That’ll be his first little farming project that’s all his own.”

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